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A Zack Snyder picture is like everything and nothing else in the galaxy. “Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver,” the second half of the director’s hammering saga about a bucolic village at the fringes of the universe forced to fight off its imperial overlords, pulls from as many influences as there are stars in the sky. “Star Wars,” of course (yes, there are light sabers), and also “Mad Max,” Caravaggio, John Ford, European art-house cinema, World War II propaganda flicks, steampunk Victoriana, cottagecore girlies on Instagram and Wagner’s “Götterdämmerung.” Not only does the score boast two types of choirs (haunted child and Gregorian), but a single frame might include a robot dressed like the Green Knight (and voiced by Anthony Hopkins) next to a Conan the Barbarian clone next to some guy in overalls who looks like he just flew in from Bonnaroo. A delirious, pulpy mishmash of knockoffs, “The Scargiver” isn’t good, but it sure is something.

The first “Rebel Moon,” released on Netflix in December, made audiences endure a gantlet of narrative groundwork that’s fairly inessential and recapped here. In it, a farm boy named Gunnar (Michiel Huisman) and a secretive assassin named Kora (Sofia Boutella) assemble an interstellar team of protectors (played by Djimon Hounsou, Staz Nair, Elise Duffy, Doona Bae and others). Now, the story picks up five days before the squad must defeat a vicious army led by an admiral (Ed Skrein) with a bad haircut and worse attitude.

The script by Snyder, Kurt Johnstad and Shay Hatten trips over its aspirations whenever any character talks. There’s not a single authentic conversation, just exposition dumps and soliloquies (the best of which Hounsou delivers). Finally, after an hour of speeches, we’re treated to an hour of rousing warfare. Primal, pitiless, agonizing carnage is where Snyder excels. He’ll kill anyone, even nice people, even grandmothers-turned-guerrilla warriors who just want to get back to folk dancing. And he makes it hurt.

The film has plenty of death, yet little life. Boutella, the lead, is listless until she can get to stabbing, and in the multiple scenes where she and the other warriors gather around a dinner table to discuss their plan of attack, the actors appear to have been ordered to ignore the food. Anything that might look cool in slow motion is filmed in slow motion: tears, explosions, wheat threshing, flour grinding. In one shot, a victim plummets from the sky in slow motion all the way down to the splat.

Snyder’s ostentatiousness is unmatched. His refusal to dial down any of his impulses — dramatic smooches backlit by a pink-ringed planet, priestly hats that resemble glowing pepperonis, a four-legged tank which totters like a hung-over armadillo — has an admirable resolve, even if it comes from an inability to say no to himself. As the body count ticks into the triple digits and the bone-rattling battle expands from the land to the air, I found myself thinking of that moral debate in Kevin Smith’s “Clerks” about the never-seen workers who died building the Death Star for Darth Vader. At least Snyder shows their faces. Then he mows them down.

Rebel Moon — Part Two: The Scargiver
Rated PG-13 for brief strong language, sequences of strong violence and suicide. Running time: 2 hours 2 minutes. Watch on Netflix.



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